The Balance Between Endgame Boredom and Burnout: Is there such a thing as too much content?

Posted by on November 30, 2012 - 2 Comments »

It’s been a delicate line on which Blizzard has tread since World of Warcraft began eight years ago, and one that seems to have reached a tipping point more so with Mists of Pandaria than in previous expansions. I’m talking about endgame content. In years past, it seemed that Blizzard couldn’t create content fast enough. By the time the next patch would come, the hardcore players were completely ready, having already grinded out everything that had been thrown at them… and then grinded it out again and again on their alts.

The addition of account-wide achievements in MoP may have alleviated that process a bit, but even those who weren’t ferocious altaholics would be yearning for that new little bit of action that would come with the release of the next patch.

And that anticipation certainly is still there. Just as in previous expansions, WoW players far and wide were getting hyped for the release of Patch 5.1 that came on Tuesday. There was discussion on various drafts of the patch notes, then of course rounds of cheers and complaints from PvPers on how class balance is or isn’t being maintained, and a rush to hit the servers as soon as they came back up.

But lately I’ve been seeing discussion among players that is a complete 180 — allegations of too much content. And although my personal opinion is that you can never have too much content, I can see where they’re coming from.

First, there was the removal of the daily quest cap alongside an addition of roughly 300 new daily quests in MoP, of which about 50 are accessible on any given day. For completionists like myself, there’s the temptation to burn through every faction’s dailies, then go back and hit up any old content that is still farmable for gold, rep, items, pets, etc. But of course, if I were to do that, I’d probably get bored with the game pretty quickly. So I generally stay away from that style of gameplay.

Then there also were other additions to the game that, while players seem to overall love, they also now feel pressure to do to the absolute best they can. Pet battles and all their related achievements may fall in this realm, as may the Cataclysm addition of transmogrification (a personal favorite of mine). Or the dozen new pets that have been added to old-world raids in 5.1, or the new item upgrade system that also appeared this week.

To me, these changes bring excitement. But I suppose I can see where some people are facing burnout. Maybe it’s not a question of too much content overall, but rather a question of too much repeating content. Or content that they feel makes them have to fight that much harder to min-max their character.

Is it possible to have too much content? If it is possible, do you think Blizzard is approaching that line? It’s an odd question to me, and one that many game developers never need to ask because they simply can’t create content as fast as their fanbase consumes it. But times, they are-a-changin’, and while having a good variety of in-game tasks to choose from may be one person’s paradise, it is apparently not viewed the same by all.

I suspect that this recent bout of discussion also could just be a reaction to the release of Patch 5.1, perhaps before some of these players were ready for it. My guess is that as the expansion continues on and players have the time they need to digest the story and gameplay, the usual pattern of wanting more content — not less — will return. We’ll see.